Demand for lithium-ion battery materials is set to spike over the coming years, which in turn will drastically increase the environmental and human impacts of mining, according to a new report from the University of Technology Sydney.
Responsible sourcing and investment in recycling and reuse schemes is critical to limit the environmental and human impacts of this increase in mining, the report says.
Many people regard electric vehicles as clean energy, but they’re only thinking of the end product. They aren’t thinking everything that goes into producing a lithium-ion battery, including the development of new mines, ore extraction, etc. They’re also not thinking about what happens to an electric vehicle battery at the end of the vehicle’s life.
Since electric vehicle demand is likely to outpace reserves for lithium-ion battery materials, new mines will have to be created. However, these new mines must be carefully managed to ensure that we limit their environmental impact.
Without proper care, new mining activity could lead to issues such as contaminated water, which would completely throw off the purpose of electric vehicles in the first place.
Companies also need to invest in research and development to learn techniques for recycling lithium-ion batteries. If we’re able to fully recycle batteries, then the need for mined materials is less urgent.
The entire electric vehicle supply chain must be environmentally friendly in order for electric vehicles to be truly impactful. The electric vehicle industry is rapidly expanding, but we can’t let it grow in an irresponsible way.